10 NIGERIAN ARTISTS YOU SHOULD KNOW
The Nigerian art scene has always been unique and spectacular. Some artists stand out because of their unique technique, some because of the contribution they’ve made in the sustenance, development, and redefinition of the industry. Here, we highlight 10 Nigerian artists you need to know.
When it comes to artists in Nigeria, Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye is a pioneer. She is the founder and director of the prestigious Nike Art Gallery. The Gallery plays host to thousands of artworks from numerous Artists across the African continent. Born in 1951 in Kogi State, Nigeria, she comes from a family of musicians and craftspeople. It is safe to say that artistry is in her blood.
In Osogbo, Osun State where she spent her early years, she was exposed to indigo dying and Adire production. In her 20 years plus career, she has featured in numerous exhibitions, won awards, and held workshops locally and internationally. The textile artist queen that is Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye is the founder of four art centers that offer free training to over 150 budding artists and house over 7,000 artworks.
2. Sam Ovraiti
When it comes to Nigerian artists, Sam Ovraiti is more than worthy of mention. Widely known as the most expressive watercolor artist in Nigeria, he is the Director of the Harmattan Workshop. The contemporary genius was born in Kaduna State, Nigeria, in 1961 and holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) from Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria and a Master of Fine Arts Degree (MFA) Degree from and the University of Benin.
With many accolades to his name, the work done by Sam Ovraiti as a Nigerian artist has defined the use of watercolor and chalk pastel for decades. A mentor to many contemporary Nigerian artists like himself, Sam Ovraiti’s work has garnered him both local and international recognition as a force in the industry.
3. Peju Alatise
When it comes to Peju Alatise, it is safe to say that many discussions about the art scene in Nigeria are not complete without the mention of her name. Born in 1975, in Lagos, Nigeria, Peju Alatise received a formal education at Ladoke Akintola University, Oyo State, Nigeria, where she studied Architecture. This exceptional artist is also a writer, poet, and curator at the National Museum of African Art. Peju Alatise’s workplaces focus on women in Nigeria as well as religious and political issues.
With creations ranging from paintings, beadwork, interior design, leather accessory design, and more, she is one of the most talented artists Nigeria has to offer. Her accomplishments have placed her on a pedestal as she, along with two other Nigerian artists were the first Nigerians to exhibit at the Venice Biennale’s 57th edition, themed Viva Art Viva (Long Live Art) featuring one of her most iconic creations ‘Flying Girls’. This art installation speaks to the issues young girls face in this world and is nothing short of wonderous.
From canvas to glory, Andrew Emueze is a contemporary Nigerian artist who, time and time again has shown through his work, that art is embedded in his DNA. Born July 26th, 1970, in the city of Lagos, Andrew’s work mirrors the life and times of the average Nigerian using elements of culture, art, and events.
He obtained both his primary and secondary education in Lagos and secured an HDN in Painting/General Art from The Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria, in 1996. Andrew Emueze has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions.
5. Sam Ebohon
The criss-cross brush stroke painting style king is none other than Sam Ebohon. Having received his art training at one of Nigeria’s oldest and most prestigious tertiary institutions, Yaba College of Technology in 1990, he went on to start his own art studio. Over the years, Sam Ebohon has etched his name in the art industry in Nigeria as one of the artists to look out for. With such a distinct style of painting, his art is easily identified.
His use of color is striking and expresses so much of the soul. His technique and skill is one that can honestly never be duplicated. His multicolored, linear strokes give a new dimension to his work. Having graced numerous exhibitions both home and abroad, he is for certain a Nigerian artist you must know.
Seye Morakinyo is another Auchi Polytechnic star that has made a name for himself as one of the foremost Nigerian artists you need to know. His paintings feature a burst of color as he explores South-Western Nigeria in his art.
Seye Morakinyo has featured in shows such as Art Zero and Kabani in 2007. Upon completion of his studies at Auchi Polytechnic, he won the Rector’s award for the Best Painting Student for the year.
Jekein Lota-Unah is a young contemporary artist in Nigeria whose name becomes more popular by the day. Her signature brick style paintings are different from what the industry has seen and is used to. Born in 1996, Jekein is not just an artist, but an activist for women and an aspiring lawyer.
Her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions locally and internationally. She explores different art forms, producing a range of paintings and murals. Her pieces are top picks for interior decor with the majority of them exploring the everyday woman.
8. Lucky Isaiah
Lucky Isaiah is one of the many Nigerian artists you need to know. His work speaks to the culture and commercial happenings of South Western and Northern Nigerian settings.
Born in 1980, this Nigerian artist graduated from Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria in 2008 where he studied painting and has since then, been featured in many art exhibitions. Lucky Isaiah captures real-life hustle in his paintings with the use of mixed media.
9. Rom Isichei
Rom Isichei is a prominent Nigerian artist known for his object and material exploration. His concepts and his attention to detail are exceptional. Born in Asaba, Delta State Nigeria, He obtained an HND from Yaba College of Technology. He went on to the Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, where he obtained an MFA.
Rom Isichei is known to utilize various media in his work which range from collages, paintings, sculptures, and much more. His collaged work of lost but found items is his most noteworthy and has been featured in art exhibitions locally and internationally.
10. Nnena Okore
Last but certainly not least is Nnena Okore. She is known for her abstract sculptures which are inspired by colors and textures within her environment. Based in both Nigeria and the United States, Nnena was born in Australia and moved to Nigeria at the age of 4. Growing up in Nigeria, her surroundings shaped her artistic expressions as her work utilized a range of environmental materials.
Okore’s pieces have been exhibited in over 80 solo and group exhibitions with many awards and achievements to her name. She is the Nigerian artist widely known for her use of discarded materials in making sculptures.
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